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4 Sensation and Perception Vocabulary

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absolute threshold: the hypothetical minimum amount of physical energy of a given kind-scent, sound, pressure, and so on- that an individual can detect


feature-detector approach: attempts to link the perception of form to the functioning of neurons in the brain feature-matching theories: according to which wea ttempt to match features of an observed pattern to features stored in memory



accommodation: the process by which the lens changes its curvature to focus on objects at differen distances adaptation level: referrenec level of sensory stimulation against which an individual may judge new stimuli or changes in existing stimuli.


Figure-ground concept: any object perceived as being highlighted almost always against, or in contrast to, some kind of receding unhighlighted background


additive color mixture: when light waves of varying wavelengths are mixed or blended Amacrine and horizontal cells: these make single lateral connections among adjacent areas of the etinl in the middle layer of cells.


fovea: small, thin region of the retina, the sixe of the head of a pin, that is most directly in the line of sight. free nerve endings: specialized sensory receptors that register pain and temperature and notice when a hair follicle is bent frequency theory: suggests that the basilar membrane reproduces the vibrations that enter the ear ganglion cells: first layer of neuronal tissue- closest to the front, outward-facing surgace of the eye Gestalt approach: based on the notion that the whole is different from the sume of its individual parts hair cells: function as auditory receptors hue: corresponds closely to what we call "color" iris: circular muscle in eye kinesthesis: sense that helps us ascertain our skeletal movements and positioning lens: curved interior part of the eye, which causes light to bend as it passes through it. lightness constancy: refers to our perception that an obect is evenly illuminated despite differences in actual amount of light that reaches our eyes.





amplitude (intensity): corresponds to our sensation of loudness



basilar membrane: one of the fluid-filled canals that are sparated by membranes


binocular convergence: use of 2 eyes in coordination to perceive depth

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binocular depth cues: captialize on the fact that each eye views a scene from a slightly different angle. This displarity of viewing angles provides information about depth.


binocular disparity: slight discrepancy in the viewpoints of the two eyes Bipolar cells: make dual connections forward and outward to the ganglion cells, as well as backward and inward to the third layer of retinal cells





blind spot: small area on the retinal where the optic nerve pushes aside photreceptors to exit the eye bottom-up approach: one views perception as involving simpler and lower-level processes such as responses to retinal stimulation
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monocular depth cues: represented by two dimensions Mler- Lyer illusion: we tend to view two equally long line segments as being differenc lengths. olfacation: sense of smell olfactory bulbs: where its neurons communicate with other neurons in complex arrangements olfactory epithelium (spell skin): In the nasal mucosa, the membranes that secrete protective mucus opponent- process theory of color vision: there are opposing processes in human vision, wach of which contrasts one color with another.

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cochlea: coiled and channeled main structure of the inner ear cones: short and thick photoreceptors cornea: curved exterior lens that gathers and focuses the entering light

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dark adaptation: an adjustment to a decrease in light intensity detection: awareness of the presence of a sensory stimulus difference threshold/ just noticeable difference (jnd): minimum amount of difference that can be detecteed betweeen 2 sensory stimuli
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optic nerve: axons of the ganglion cells Optical illusions: occur when visual images prompt distortions of visual perceptions oval window: the first part of the inner ear perception: set of cognitive processes through which we interpret the messages our senses provide. Perceptual constancy: perception that stimuli remain the same even when immediat senstaions of the stimuli change.


discrimination: ability to ascertain the difference between one stimulus and another. duplicity theory: says both place and frequency play some role in hearing pitch eardrum (tympanum): physiological structure of the outer ear that vibrates in response to the sound waves


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electromagnetic spectrum: range of energy of varying wavelengths


pheromones: chemical substances secreted by nonhuman animals. Pheromones trigger specific kinds of reactions in other animals, usually of the same species


template-matching theory: posits that we have templates or prototypes stored in our mind timbre: quality of sounds that allows us to tell the difference between an A flat played on a piano and an A flat played on a harmonica


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photopigments: chemical substancess that react to light photoreceptors: transduce light energy into electrochemical energy

top-down approach: one views perception as involving complex problem solving transduce: when sensory receptors covert energy received from the environment into the form of energy that is meaningful. Trichromatic theory of color vision: the young helmholtz theory; our cones are particularly receptive to light of specific wavelenghts. each cone absorbs light waves that are either short, medium, or long. light or relatively short wavelenght is violet or blue, light of medium wavelenght is green or yellow, and light of relatively long wavelenght is orange or red.

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pinna: visible outer part of the ear, collects sound waves pitch: how high or low a tone sounds Place theory: posits that we hear each pitch as a function of the location in the basilar membrane that is stimulated
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Ponzo's illusion: we perceive the top line and top log as being longer than the bottom line and bottom log, respectively Psychophysics: systematic study of the relationship between the physical stimulation of a sense organ and the psychological sensations produced by that stimulation.



versible figures: each of a given pair of adjacent or even interconnecting figures can be seen as either figure our ground. vestibular sense: sense of balance or equilibrium vestibular system: comprises the vestibular sacs and semicircular canals volley principle: says auditory neurons are able to cooperate Webster's Law: greater the magnitude of stimuls, the larger a difference needs to be in order to be detected.

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pupil: hole in the center of iris receptor cells: where stimulation occurs; have evolved to detect particular kinds of enery, such as mechanical, eelecromagnetic, or chemical energy.
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retina: network of neurons that extends over most of the back (posterior) surgace of the interior of the eye rods: long and thin photoreceptors sensation: a message our brains receive from a sensory receptor that has been stimulated. sense: physical system that receives a particular kind of physical stimulation and translates it into a electrochemical message the brain can understand.

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sensory adaption: temporary physiological response to a sensed change in the environment sensory coding: phsiological form of communication through which sensory receptors convey a range of information about stimuli throughout the nervous system.



shape constancy: refers to our perceiving an object as retaining its shape even when the shape it casts on te retinal changes


signal-detection theory (SDT): says that four combinations of stimulu and resonse are possible. single-cell recording: a recording on one neuron in the brain. Size cosntancy: perception that an object remains the same sixe despite changes in the size of the proximal stimulus on the retina.

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stroboscopic motion "apparent motion": the perception of motion produced by a stroboscope- an instrument that intermittently flashes an alternating pair of lights against a dark background


subtractive color mixture: remaining wavelengths of light that are reflected from an object after other wavelengths of light have been absorbed by that object


tast buds/ papillae: clusters that contain taste-receptor cells located inside the small visible protrusions on the tongue